Sunday, May 31, 2009

Video: Grizzly Bear- Two Weeks

Yes, this video is weird as hell. But it keeps you transfixed because you have no idea where they're going with it. This is an indefinable quality I sometimes look for in art: when you're just following someone or something down a road because you don't know where they're going but you're still enjoying the ride.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Album of the Week: Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest

Today was one of those weird late Spring/almost Summer days where it was gray, overcast, and extremely humid yet it never rained. Driving home with my windows down, the white cottonwood fluff was blowing around in the wind creating a surreal almost-snowstorm look to the world. Underneath all of this rides the notion that I'll be moving into my own place in about week, all those last minute details and things roiling underneath the surface. And with all of this--the odd weather, the dramatic life change--going on, all I can think about is how damned good the new Grizzly Bear album is.

With their new album, Grizzly Bear have thrown their hat into the ring for the running of "best album of the year." Yes, I've only been listening to it for two days now and I'm already saying that and 2009's music season is just warming up, too. As usual, most of the music releases I'm looking forward to seem to be in the second half of the year. True, 2009 got off to a great start with Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, but Veckatimest feels like the true start of a gradual flood of stuff I've been looking forward to and things I don't expect but will probably astound me. Yet one must live in the moment, and in this moment, I find Veckatimest to be an astonishingly rich achievement.

Understand that I loved Yellow House but for as good as it was, Grizzly Bear have with this release issued their first unqualified masterpiece. Yellow House is an incredible, fascinating album, but you really have to be in a certain mood for it. Not so for Veckatimest, a brilliant batch of songs that requires as much patience as Yellow House but who's rewards run, arguably, much deeper. I went through a strange initial period of this album quite similar to the one I went through with the aforementioned Animal Collective album. At first I was ambivalent and mostly unimpressed; only a few songs grabbed me and the rest seemed strange, intricate beasts that were hard to nail down. Strange that with their 2009 albums, both Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective released enjoyable, less experimental albums that still, somehow, require a few listens to comprehend.

This lack of immediacy isn't a bad thing. On Veckatimest, 'Two Weeks' will likely be the initial hook that keeps you coming back; it's like a Rosetta's Stone that allows you to slowly unravel and adore the rest of the album. See, the problem people are going to have with this album is that, while it's the most 'pop' thing Grizzly Bear have done, they never seem to go for the obvious, whether it's a lazy lyric or easy song structure. Once this music winds its way into you and you've learned the twists and turns, they become delightful nuggets of discovery.

Grizzly Bear's Friend EP approximated their live sound, with that incredible reverb laden, chunky guitar sound remaking some of the songs from the band's first two albums. On Veckatimest that is fully explored alongside the familiar dreamy indie-folk/psych-folk atmospheres and melodies, as well as new orchestral tinged textures and sturdier, more emphatic drum beats. Veckatimest manages to sound of a singular whole and yet quite distinct from song to song, always offering up new ideas and unpredictable hooks, melodies, and sounds. 'Cheerleader' starts off sounding a bit like the drum part from Portishead's 'Magic Doors' before murking about in a dreamy haze that never seems to go anywhere yet offers plenty of sonic details and twists on headphone listens. 'Dory' sails in with a haunting vocal intro before carousing about with an acoustic guitar section full of imaginative lyrical imagery. The most-mentioned-song-in-this-review 'Two Weeks' offers up Grizzly Bear's take on R&B/soul, and 'All We Ask' is the sort of song that gets more impressive with each listen, the ending handclaps enhanced section punctuating an already fine tune.

The band has also damn near perfected their approach to vocals, making great use of close, Brian Wilson-esque harmonies as well as focusing on either the majestic, melancholic tones of Ed Droste or the more straightforward and nasally Daniel Rossen. As with the two main forces on Wolf Parade's At Mount Zoomer, who put in career highs with songs there, both of Grizzly Bear's singers turn in brilliant performances that belong entirely to them (the Droste masterpiece 'Two Weeks' is inarguably one of the 2009's best songs, while Rossen goes to bat much more often and always hits homers, of which 'While You Wait For The Others' is the highlight) but still unselfishly support each other. 'Hold Still' may have Rossen handling the lead vocals, but his harmonies with Droste (and the rest of the band) are, yes, beautiful.

By now you've likely heard that this album was named after an uninhabitated island near Massachusetts. That makes sense to me because there's a spooky mixture of the familiar and unfamiliar to this album, something dreamy yet not as sleepy as Yellow House was. Much as Pink Floyd famously 'played' at Pompeii, Grizzly Bear could fill Veckatimest with music, too. This is an album that engages you enough at first to keep you coming back until the full picture is revealed. The sort of album that you'll find hard to describe and recommend without resorting to generic, positive adjectives. It defies easy categorization as much as it does easy description. One of 2009's must hears.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lil' Indie Round-Up

War Tapes EP by War Tapes

What Do They Sound Like??: 90s alt rock with a dramatic, deep voiced singer and 80s synth-pop/new wave undertones.

Buy, Meh, Bleh: Meh. War Tapes are a band who remind you of other groups without adding any new touches or finesse of their own. They aren't terrible but the songs on this EP pass by without sinking any real hooks into you.

Music For Dorothy by Topas & Mudphonic

What Do They Sound Like??: Like a bar band combining funk, blues, R&B, and a touch of jazz, boasting downhome grooves and a laid back (but not in a lazy way) vibe.

Buy, Meh, Bleh: You know what?? Buy. If you're into that funky 70s bar band vibe--harmonicas, organs, guitars, and a semi-raspy singer--then you'll love this band. It's good music for hanging out with friends or killing a six pack, but close listening at home leaves something to be desired.

Supersaturated by The Singhs

What Do They Sound Like??: Pretty much like the cover: a super glossy sheen that leaves no impression. Something vaguely glam rock about the whole album, with an immaculate production and polish that robs what is obstensibly rock music of any kind of rocking.

Buy, Meh, Bleh: Bleh. Judging by the way the band looks, The Singhs are an alternate universe version of Guided By Voices in which Robert Pollard and co. never made it and became an oddly faceless and personality-less glam rock/arena rock band who never rock and can't write an interesting song to save their lives. When I listen to Supersaturated it's as though the band keeps the volume and energy level down because they don't want to wake up their wives or something. Imagine some high powered executive, rendered impotent and humor-less by years of cigars and cocaine, lounging in a room with entirely black furniture; this is the music he listens to to unwind. This album is the sort of thing I point to when I write things like "I don't like Rehearsing My Choir by the Fiery Furnaces but sometimes a spectacular, experimental failure is better than a competently produced and played but mediocre album." Mediocrity is worse than flat out sucking in my book.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Album of the Week: Battles- Mirrored

Collaborative projects are almost entirely hit or miss. You get a bunch of musicians together who are fans of each other's work but have never played together, or you get people who would make sense together, and the end results are either better and more interesting than you imaged or incredibly terrible. I had only a vague concept of who the guys in Battles were before I listened to them, but in retrospect it makes sense: Tyondai Braxton (son of legendary avant garde jazz musician Anthony Braxton and experimental musician in his own right), Ian Williams (formerly of underground math rock heroes Don Caballero), John Stanier (of alt. metal/post-hardcore legends Helmet), and Dave Konopka (in some band named Lynx who I guess were/are math rock-y). An interesting mix, to be sure.

Battles had released some EPs before Mirrored came out, but having not heard those I'll just skip the background and say that this album is a flat out monster. Battles sound like math rock as approached from an electronic starting point--it's no wonder they're on Warp records with all the loops and effects pedals going on on this album. Rarely has a band been able to bend technology so strongly to its will and yet sounded so natural and alive, rocked just as hard as classic rock of old. This doesn't sound like people messing about with laptops and pedals even if that's some of what it is. The vocals are treated and looped to a sometimes comical extent; riffs sludge away for minutes before slowing down in a gradual descent, or they bound about in minimalist, interlocking holding patterns that warp time and space. The drums pound into your skull but never in a truly brutal metal sort of way; often there's a sense of groove and bounce to it. The keyboards add a sometimes videogame-sound-effect feel or provide a jazz fusion Rhodes keyboard character to the music (such as on the undulating 'Leyendecker'). All the while, the guitars and bass carouse this way and that, around each other, recalling the obvious Don Caballero connection but taking the effects pedals and finger tapping that Ian Williams began in that band around the time of What Burns Never Returns and going even further. There is a true thrill in listening to this album, a real sense of discovery and invention for the band and the listener.

Despite being mostly instrumental, Mirrored is addictive and endlessly listenable as much for its sense of discovery and invention as it is a surprisingly lyrical and memorable sense of songwriting. Having not heard their earlier material yet, I can't say for sure, but I get the sense that they spent those years experimenting and sketching out a sound/aesthetic that fully bloomed here. 'Tij' is tucked away toward the end of the album but is its most accomplished work, running through a linear progression that keeps building and re-building and never gets repetitive even though it's seven minutes long.

Drawing on elements of electronic music, hard rock, math rock, and even a dash of prog rock (with a healthier sense of fun than normal), Battles have, with Mirrored, proved that sometimes collaborations are more than the sum of their parts. Sometimes, they become the whole. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lil' Indie Round-Up

I've decided to re-launch the Lil' Indie Round-Up with less snark but no less brutal honesty. Hopefully this is more useful.Ain't No Surprise by Leopold and His Fiction

What Do They Sound Like??: Kind of a bluesy White Stripes 60s garage rock-ish sound meets Bob Dylan's mid 60s electric period. Maybe some Loaded era Velvet Underground. Maybe. The singer sounds like Jack White on the rock songs and Devendra Banhart on the slow/acoustic songs.

Buy, Meh, Bleh: Meh. This band's first problem is that they don't have any hooks in their songs. There's no melody or line or thing that draws you in and keeps you coming back. Their second problem is that the two best songs on here--the title track and 'Tiger Lily'--are basically rip offs of other, better songs. 'Ain't No Surprise' literally is 'Tombstone Blues' by Bob Dylan. You're a fucking liar if you can listen to this song and not say "is this a cover??" Meanwhile, 'Tiger Lily' is such a Devendra Banhart sound-alike that I guarantee I could play this for a friend and convince them it was a B-side. Ultimately, this band isn't terrible. They're just unoriginal and unremarkable.

Larrabee by Movers & Shakers

What Do They Sound Like??: A singer who either sounds like Elvis Costello or any old punk hollerer combined with a band who spend an entire album trying to decide what they are: a rustic indie rock band or a slightly more polished and rustic version of The Clash?? Place your bets now on how many members have beards.

Buy, Meh, Bleh: Meh. This album starts off fairly promisingly with the Fleet Foxes-esque vocal harmonies on 'Adventures In An Unrealistic Life.' But from there the lyrics either say too little with too many words or merely say too little while the music grows less interesting and somehow more generic despite making use of a decent variety of sounds. I dunno what it is, but when I listen to this album I feel like I see everything coming. There's no sense of surprise or discovery here. The singer is extremely limited and it doesn't work for the band like it can for some (David Berman, take a bow) and the music never delivers any kind of revelatory moment or melody. I've listened to it twice and I can't remember much except that I kind of like the first song.

We Are The Mystery Tramps EP by The Mystery Tramps

What Do They Sound Like??: If you grew up in the 90s, I'm willing to bet your high school had a local band or two that had a vaguely punk pop/rock sound, like Blink 182 without the dick/fart jokes, maybe. That's what this band sounds like. They look and sound young.

Buy, Meh, Bleh: BLEH. I have to confess that I wanted to like this band because hey, they named themselves after a Dylan lyric. Unfortunately they don't live up to it, not nearly. They're just too god damn young and their music sounds it. I have a journal or two full of just these kind of amateurish "meaningful" lyrical sentiments like "everyone's an actor" (woah, that's like, all fairness, most of my stuff was as bad if not worse), but the only people that teenagers can speak to is teenagers, ultimately. If you aren't (literally) retarded or under the age of 20, you'll find it insulting that a group of kids who can't even grow facial hair let alone buy wine claim to know anything about being a "tramp" or anything that Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone' says. I speak from experience when I say that anyone who hasn't had their heart broken, went hungry for most of a day, or woken up to puke and then went back to bed to sleep off the rest of a hangover has nothing to say. Nothing. Look at that album cover, a group of middle-to-upper class teens who think suffering is having their cellphone taken away in class.

And the conceit of having an "encore" version of a song is almost too much.

Of course, let me make clear that their music is no good either. Unless you're really into high school pop/punk bands...And even if you are, you're better off picking up a cheap used copy of Enema Of The State at your local independent record store and pretending you're buying it as a joke.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shuffling VI

OK people, you know the drill.


1) Maybe Maybe by Pavement- This is the version from the Brighten The Corners deluxe reissue, which I think is some kind of radio station/John Peel session piss take. Somehow it's even sloppier than the original lo-fi version you can hear on the Westing (By Sextant And Musket) compilation. Anyway, this kind of song wasn't made for a full band so it doesn't come off well here.

2) The Smallest Weird Number by Boards Of Canada- This short track reminds me of how fascinating this band is even on a small scale. Though a bit over one minute long, it is perfection in microcosm, packing in all kinds of interesting textures and sounds.

3) Puttin' On The Dog by Tom Waits- Ah, one of those gin joint, roadhouse blues stomps from Tom Waits. Someday there really oughta be a movie made of Charles Bukowski's work that has songs by Waits as a soundtrack. Listening to a song like this, you feel as though you're in the dark corner of a dive bar nursing a scotch and water that you bought with the last four bucks in your wallet, wondering what you're going to do now. Then a woman walks by and makes you feel something after you assumed you couldn't anymore, and hell, you figure you have nothing to lose...

4) Shooting Star by Elliott Smith- Man, if he had actually finished From A Basement On A Hill, it would've been one weird album. It already is a helter-skelter affair in its half-finished, post-humous state, but there truly is a paranoid late 60s pop/rock atmosphere that runs through it, recalling The White Album and the unfinished-until-2004 Smile project. This six minute song proves that Smith could've really made something out of a full touring band kind of sound rather than the lonely singer/songwriter stuff he's known for or the studio perfectionist, borderline orchestral pop of Figure 8 and XO. The guitar stuff around the 3:35 mark is especially good--hell, who knew he could play like that (assuming it isn't a sessionman)??

5) Back Of Your Head by Cat Power- It's too bad (for me) that Chan Marshall is caught up in 60s soul/R&B-isms and being all happy, because her earlier work is impossibly sad and beautiful. As much as I love Nico's The Marble Index, I think that Cat Power's Moon Pix is more enjoyably dower. 'Back Of Your Head' is a lonely willow of a song, its lyrics reminding me of so many bittersweet, and simply bitter, moments in my own life and romances. Also, "you hold the big picture so well/can't you see that we're going to hell?" is a chilling summation of a relationship that always gets to me. Sniff....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Video: Joanna Newsom- Sprout And The Bean

Should we go outside?? Should we break some bread??

Some musicians belong to an era and world outside of our own. No, not in the sense of being "outsiders" and "freaks." Just in terms of how their music sounds, what it's about, and what it makes you feel. Joanna Newsom is this for me. This video is perfect in that it captures her aesthetic superbly. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Album Of The Week: Beat Happening- You Turn Me On

Calvin Johnson is one of those names you might hear a hundred times in the context of other bands and behind-the-scenes type stuff, especially in regards to his K Records label. His is a name that has an unassuming simplicity to it, like the guy you always see taking a nap in the campus library. But it's only when you listen to Beat Happening that he becomes worthy of the reverence and respect he's given. Here was a band that, self-consciously or otherwise, helped to democratize rock after punk had flamed out, creatively speaking, had become a codified, orthodox thing. Beat Happening reminded us that, yeah, all you needed was a guitar, drums, and the guts to sing. No, not the ability to sing. Johnson's voice is one of the great unsung (no pun intended) underground bellows of all time, a flat baritone that is surprisingly expressive in its limitations.

The same could be said for Beat Happening's music.

Aesthetically speaking, Beat Happening were a minimalist rock band that recalled the naivety and innocence of early 60s rock and pop but with a coyness and wink gained from young adulthood. They wrote teenage sentiment songs, yes, but with an irony and detachment gained from being old. Like, 21 years old old. This would eventually be labelled 'twee', of course, but labels don't matter when the music is this good. Lest Johnson get all the credit, the band's other singer, Heather Lewis, would prove just as influential on a wave of future indie rock sweethearts with pretty, unaffected voices. Contrasted with Johnson's baritone bellow, barely-there drums and Bret Lunsford's simple, repetitive guitar lines, the band's sound is distinctive. If you hear something playing somewhere that makes you think "hmmm, this sounds like Beat Happening...", it's probably either Beat Happening or a band who really wants to be Beat Happening. Their music has the quality a lot of great bands do in that all of their songs kind of sound the same until you become intimate with their music.

Intimate, of course, is one of the best words to use in talking about their music and You Turn Me On in particular. This is because their music is perfect for lonely bedroom listening and headphone afternoons. Even the tougher edged songs like the title track are hardly "rocking" in the way I think of rock. And were it not for the charisma and bizarre dance antics of Johnson, I doubt anyone would enjoy seeing them live. Especially material from this album. Song for song and as a whole, it's Beat Happening's longest and demands some patience from the listener. It is, arguably, the band's best album. However, as all of their releases are of a consistently high quality, it will come down to splitting hairs and personal preference. Kurt Cobain liked Jamboree best. I prefer this one. It takes a special band to make a nine minute epic like the Lewis sung epic 'Godsend' work with just guitars and vocals. It takes a special band to write 'Teenage Caveman', which is far darker and more nuanced than it originally sounds despite the plodding drums. It takes a special band to record an album like this and then...not break up, exactly; not retire, either...just to sort of step away, move on. No drama or anything.

Perhaps the best thing about Beat Happening is their aforementioned consistency. You can pick up any of their releases and immediately know if you're going to like them or not. If you find that you do, you'll have about four or five other albums to enjoy, albums that are similar and yet different enough to not sound like recycled material. Hell, I jumped in with Music To Climb The Apple Tree By and that's technically a compilation. At any rate, You Turn Me On is their best. Unless you want to believe Kurt Cobain, that is.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Video: Fuck Buttons- Sweet Love For Planet Earth

C'mon now, you know that every so often I've got to set aside my shy/twee/pop/indie kid side and delve into some more experimental stuff. Granted once you get used to Fuck Buttons their stuff doesn't strike you as that crazy, but I thought the same thing about Captain Beefheart yet 90% of the people I introduce him to end up hating it.

Whatever. This song is awesome and yes, there isn't supposed to be any images.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Album Of The Week/Primer Part 10: Radiohead- In Rainbows

There are two important threads running through In Rainbows that I feel are the key to appreciating it:

1) This is Radiohead's most human album, full of songs about love, worrying about death, and wondering how it all adds up.

2) This is Radiohead's most direct and concise album, full of songs that are road tested, tight, and immediately engaging.

Due to both of these, In Rainbows can initially strike a listener as being...too easy. Radiohead albums are supposed to be something that you struggle with and have to think a lot about, aren't they?? They're supposed to grow on you and open up new layers and meaning with time, aren't they??

In Rainbows commits the "crime" of being an accessible, immediately enjoyable Radiohead album. Patterned after the lean-and-mean classic rock albums of old that barely scraped the 35 minute mark, In Rainbows is the sound of a band accepting that they might not have any place left to go, any great experiments to undertake, aside from the least obvious one: to make a great pop album. Which is exactly what this album is. Lyrically and musically, it is Radiohead's pop album.

Though, to be fair, it's still really artsy and interesting, songs full of small delights and surprises.

If Hail To The Thief was a long, semi-sprawling album that collected and perfected all of the sounds that the band had explored up to that point, then In Rainbows is the band boiling down everything that makes them great until what's left in the bottom of the cooking pot is 40 minutes of perfection. What's most surprising about the music on In Rainbows is the revealing of the emotional, human heart that's been at the heart of Radiohead songs all along. Kid A was pretty abstract, but for music that was often criticized for being withdrawn, intellectual, and cold, using the Rosetta's Stone of In Rainbows it begins to make more sense. At any rate, Thom Yorke remarked that most of this album was his attempt at "seduction songs", which helps explain why In Rainbows sounds so romantic, (melo)dramatic, and beautiful-but-with-tinges-of-melancholy. Speaking of the latter, for my money, 'All I Need' is one of the best unrequited love songs ever.

Beyond all of this, though, In Rainbows is Radiohead's most listenable and downright fun album yet. Yorke's voice is at the heart of every song and carries the emotional heavy lifting while the rest of the band deliver on every level. The rock songs rock, the ballads tear at the heart strings, and the other stuff does whatever and sounds cool. I will admit right now that this may not be my favorite Radiohead album, but it's their most accessible and I-wanna-listen-to-it-over-and-over album. I simply can never get enough of it, its melodies, hooks, and sounds burrowing deep into the pop center of my music brain. I mean, I've had it for over a year and it still frequently floats around in my car for opportunistic listening. I chalk most of this up to how great the songs are. Radiohead were always an "ideas" and "sounds" sort of band, but who knew they were a "songs" sort of band, too?? I guess I always have but didn't realize it until now. Witness the clanging percussion and haunting chorus of voices on 'Reckoner', which produces an indescribable atmosphere that I'll never forget as long as I live. Witness 'Nude', finally completed after kicking around since the OK Computer era, and to these ears at least better than all of the previous versions I've heard. Witness the absolutely stunning 'Videotape', which is arguably the best closing song from a band with no lack of great closing songs. That it is the goodbye message of a dying man, ending with the line "today has been the most perfect day I have ever seen", gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. Pay attention to the way the drum loop slowly collapses in on itself over the course of the's one of those perfect touches that you may not notice right away because hey, this is Radiohead's pop album and you don't have to listen close...but give this album another listen and those little details and sounds you've come to love Radiohead for will be there.

Certainly, touring these songs before finishing them, playing at American music festivals like the hippie-ish/classic rock-y Bonnaroo, and being free of their record contract contributed to the sound of In Rainbows. But I don't need to talk about those elements. Of all their albums, this is the one Radiohead release that doesn't need any kind of context or explanation to enjoy. It may not be their best album in my estimation, but we should be so lucky that other bands would release pop albums of such accessibility and enjoyment while still retaining an edge and depth.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Primer Part 9: Thom Yorke- The Eraser

No offense to the Mike D and Badly Drawn Boy fans out there, but I don't think anyone would disagree with the notion that 'Rabbit In Your Headlights' was the best track from UNKLE's Psyence Fiction album. It was a rare glimpse of one of the members of Radiohead working outside of the band and paired Thom Yorke with one of the influences on the sound of OK Computer, specifically lead track 'Airbag.' That is to say, DJ Shadow. At or before this same time, Yorke's fascination with electronic music grew by leaps and bounds until, during the Kid A/Amnesiac sessions, he had all but given up on guitar based music. 2003's Hail To The Thief ably recombined the acoustic/guitar and keyboard/drum machine/loops aspects of Radiohead's music, yet Yorke was left with the itch to pursue his fascination with electronic music. During the long downtime between Thief and the eventual In Rainbows, he did just that.

"I don't wanna hear that word solo" (emphasis added) Yorke insisted of The Eraser, but I'm not sure what else it should be called. If it was a side project or one-off lark, why use his name on it?? Why not stealth release it without his name?? Ultimately, though, the name doesn't matter because you know exactly what you're getting into with The Eraser: Thom Yorke letting his whims run free, producing a bedroom/laptop electronic album. Its ambition, scope, and palette are deliberately reduced from a proper Radiohead album, so those in the audience expecting some sort of secret masterpiece or new direction will be disappointed. The music on here is like Yorke continuining in the direction of tracks like 'Everything In Its Right Place, 'Kid A', and 'Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box.'

The Eraser's success or failure depends entirely on how much you like Thom Yorke's voice. Much as electronics are the brush he's painting with here, if you can't stand the guy's voice then you're going to hate this. As In Rainbows would bear out, during and after Hail To The Thief Yorke had begun to appreciate his voice again, to allow it to be the centerpiece of a song instead of, as during the Kid A and Amnesiac sessions, using it as another element or texture, burying it in the mix from time to time. The lyrics in general are also much more verbose and deal with more specific and personal topics than they had in awhile (this, too, points the way to the borderline traditional and romantically inclined In Rainbows).

So, yes, this album is like being locked in a room with Thom Yorke and a healthy supply of samplers, loop machines, laptops, keyboards, drum machines, and a microphone. If that idea thrills you, then The Eraser is for you. The less experimental, hardcore, and noisy elements of influences like Aphex Twin and Autechre are prominent and the best hint of the sound here. The title track lurches to life with staggered piano chords and a minimalist drum machine backing. 'The Clock', appropriate to its title, sounds like a time piece malfunctioning, with glitches and cut-up loops creaking in and out, Yorke's voice sailing through the typhoon and giving us ground to stand on. 'Black Swan' apparently samples some recordings done by Radiohead and sounds the least "solo laptop electronic album" of the nine tracks, with what is probably a guitar(!!) laying down a sidewinding rhythm. Meanwhile, Yorke warns us that "you have tried your best to please everyone, but it just isn't happening."

Taking his own advice with this album?? You decide.

The Eraser is an odd bird because it's weirdly thrilling in a microcosmic way. Something about those sluggish keyboard chords on 'Atoms For Peace' sits in my head and won't go away. Every song has one or two things that will fire up the pleasure centers in your brain, but nothing about this album is majestic, anthemic, or stunning in the way Radiohead's albums are. Not to mention that there's a downside and an upside to having an album with a consistent 'sound': it's great, because the songs work well together and there isn't a dud in the bunch, but it's bad because none of them strike me as especially outstanding and this is the sort of music you have to be in the mood for. The Eraser demands headphones and quiet contemplation; though electronic, it isn't electronic in a dance music sort of way.

It was only recently that I got around to The Eraser and I suspect it will remain that way for Radiohead fans of the future. It's the sort of solo/side project release that you're aware of and eventually pick up, and you enjoy it a lot, but it doesn't fill you with the same sleepless fascination that full blown Radiohead albums do. It's a good little bedroom/laptop electronic album, in the end, and reminded me, at least, just how much I love Yorke's voice in any context: DJ Shadow collaboration, PJ Harvey and Bjork guest appearances, inside the Radiohead context, or on his own.